Saturday, August 6, 2016

REVIEW: Ghostbusters (live action movie) - at the movie theater

I was hesitant about seeing this, for a lot of reasons. I vaguely remembered having seen at least one of the original Ghostbusters movies but didn't have any particular attachment to or love for the franchise. I haven't been wild about the last few hyped movies I've seen, and I was a little worried that this one was getting most of its viewer hype because of the all-female main cast. Also, a lot of the people who were raving about it were also fans of several of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy's other movies. I loathed Bridesmaids, winced a lot during Spy, and just generally didn't want to see a repeat of the sort of humor I saw in those movies. Thankfully, this turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting.

The story: Erin is a professor who's being considered for tenure. Unfortunately, an embarrassing piece of her past, a book on the paranormal that she co-wrote years ago with her best friend Abby, has come back to haunt her. She's worried that she'll be seen as a crackpot, so she tracks Abby down in order to ask her to please stop selling the book. Abby has since teamed up with Jillian Holtzmann, a nutty and brilliant scientist, and Erin accidentally gets all three of them involved in a paranormal investigation at a museum. The team is later joined by Patty, a transit worker who is an absolute fount of historical facts and knowledge, and their new receptionist, Kevin, who is gorgeous but very stupid. The group finds themselves dealing with more and more ghosts, not realizing that all these recent incidents are due to the machinations of a nobody who feels he isn't getting all the recognition and attention he deserves.

Like I said, this was actually pretty decent. I don't know that I want to own it, but it was worth seeing. Kristen Wiig (Erin), as usual, was involved in a lot of the grosser jokes (mostly involving ectoplasm), but none of it left me with the feeling of horror and pity that many of the “jokes” in Bridesmaids did. I don't recall Melissa McCarthy's weight being a factor in any of the jokes involving her, and Kate McKinnon was positively gleeful as Holtzmann. I was expecting to cringe at Leslie Jones' character (Patty), but she was handled better than I expected. I do wish that the movie had done a better job of establishing her purpose in the team, though. I've seen fan comments stating that Patty's knowledge of odd historical details was due to her love of reading, but I don't think this was ever mentioned in the movie. Maybe she was reading when she first appeared on-screen? I don't know, but her background felt less solidly established than Erin's, Abby's, or even Holtzmann's.

The movie meandered a bit, as the team played around with Holtzmann's various new toys, investigated random ghost sightings (which were all tied in with the movie's Big Bad, although his details weren't revealed until later), and tried to establish themselves. There were things I wasn't entirely clear on, like how the group could afford the rent on even the little place they ended up finding for themselves, why Patty would quit (I assume?) her job as a transit worker for something that I couldn't imagine would pay very well, and how they were managing to pay Kevin. Basically, most of my questions had to do with money. But in the end, if I turned off my brain a bit, it was fun. I enjoyed the various cameos from the original movies, liked the humor more than expected, and laughed at Chris Hemsworth's over-the-top portrayal of stupid, pretty Kevin. The scene with the lens-less glasses just about killed me.

If I could change one thing, it would be Erin's embarrassingly obvious drooling over Kevin. It was painful to watch. I've seen lots of comments to the effect of “well, it's just a gender-flipped version of how women are always treated in movies.” True, but flipping the genders doesn't make me any happier about having to watch it. The group's decision to hire Kevin could have been explained away as the result of there being no other applicants, and, honestly, Erin had better and less cringe-worthy chemistry with Holtzmann.

All in all though, this was fun. If another new Ghostbusters movie gets made with this cast, I plan to go see it.

2 comments:

  1. I never even considered this one as a possibility...especially at theater prices...because I was not all that impressed with the original despite its cast. It all seemed to predictable to me and, I suppose, just kind of silly without being genuinely funny. You've got me curious enough to catch this one on video some time or another if I stumble upon it, etc. Interesting review.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, if you do eventually see it! Matinee movie theater tickets in my area are only $3.50 (regular showings, not 3D), so it's not a huge hole in my wallet, and cheaper even than waiting to get things from Walmart's bargain bins. This was definitely worth my $3.50, which I know doesn't sound like much except there were movies that made me regret spending even that little.

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